Retired deputy helps youth through Teen Court

Feb. 17, 2014 @ 07:21 PM

Jerry S. “Mack” Delbridge will be taking his authoritative “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!” from Vance County District Court to the Warren County Teen Court as he begins a new phase of his career.

He has given that traditional call to order for 18 years as bailiff in Vance County courts. He held forth in the old courthouse on Young Street and, since 2000, in the new complex on Church Street.

He retired as bailiff and sergeant in the sheriff’s office on Dec. 31.

In February, he began working part-time for Warren County Teen Court, which is conducted by the Warren County Youth Services Bureau.

“He’ll be a great asset for us with his experience as a teacher and in the court system and law enforcement,” Youth Services Director Debbie Scott said.

Delbridge will coordinate the Teen Court program, she said.

“I really enjoyed what I was doing,” Delbridge said of his tenure with the Vance County Sheriff’s Office. “It was very challenging. I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to serve under Sheriff Breedlove and Sheriff White.”

Peter White promoted him to sergeant and chief bailiff in 2006, he said. In that capacity, he represented the sheriff as chairman of the Courthouse Security Committee and bailiff for Teen Court and Mock Court.

Prior to his employment with the sheriff’s office, he spent 22 years as a teacher of business and marketing with Vance County Schools. He also has served as a patrolman with the Duke University Campus Police and as a corrections officer at Central Prison.

Working with Warren County Teen Court will be a change of pace, but it allows him to continue his interest in guiding young people away from life-altering mistakes.

“As a teacher, I helped students take that most important step of getting a job,” he said.

But he saw how a conviction for a crime hurt their chances.

“If they’ve got something on their record, employers won’t hire them,” Delbridge said.

Teen Court gives young people who have committed minor crimes a chance to avoid having that blot on their records. The program gives them the choice of appearing before a jury of their peers instead of in juvenile court.

In Teen Court, a teen prosecutor will present the case against them. A teen defense attorney will advocate on their behalf. A teen jury will decide the case and, if the finding is guilty, will determine the sentence, which may include community service, restitution of losses to the victim of the crime, an apology or a combination of these.

If they carry out the sentences decided by Teen Court, their offenses do not go on their records. They will not have the black mark that makes finding a job doubly difficult.

District Judge Randolph Baskerville, in his third year working with Teen Court, said, “We try to keep juveniles out of the juvenile justice system.”

He described how teens take all the roles in the court proceedings except judge. That role is played by a real-life judge or an attorney.

“The young people enjoy it,” Baskerville said. “Most want to be prosecutors.”

Baskerville said Warren County Teen Court will benefit from Delbridge’s service.

“He’s a wonderful guy,” he said. “I know his wife, Hilda, and his daughter, Hilary. They’re a wonderful family. I can’t say enough good about them.”

Delbridge received a bachelor’s degree from N.C. State University and a master of arts in teaching from East Carolina University, where he also obtained a principal’s certificate.

He served in the National Guard from 1977 to 1999, retiring with the rank of captain.

He and his wife have two children. Hilary is an attorney. Spencer recently received a Ph.D. in history from Pennsylvania State University and teaches Latin American studies in Tampa, Fla.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.